Pubdate: Wed, 19 Aug 2009
Source: Honolulu Advertiser (HI)
Copyright: 2009 The Honolulu Advertiser
Author: Mary Vorsino


Marijuana Charges, Police Chase in Vegas Get National Attention

Those who know the two Honolulu police officers arrested in Las Vegas 
last weekend on marijuana charges expressed shock yesterday at the 
news, while the head of the police union called the incident a "black 
eye" for the department and the state.

The story has made headlines around the country and has been a hot 
topic on Internet blog sites.

HPD officials have said officers Kevin Fujioka and Shayne Souza could 
be suspended or fired if the allegations are true.

The veteran HPD officers were arrested Saturday night in Las Vegas on 
marijuana charges, after allegedly leading police on a short chase in 
a van and by foot. Souza, a 20-year-old veteran of the Honolulu 
Police Department, was pepper-sprayed during the incident because he 
resisted arrest, police said. Fujioka has been with HPD for 13 years. 
Scott Wilson, a social worker from Honolulu, was also arrested.

Neither of the officers has returned to work, and officials could not 
say yesterday when they will.

"As far as their status when they return, it's being discussed at 
this time," HPD spokeswoman Michelle Yu said.

The three are members of the "Honolulu's Finest" men's softball team, 
which is made up of police officers, firefighters and some friends 
and family members. On Saturday night, the team won the men's 
softball tournament at the 2009 Nevada Police & Fire Games at Desert 
Breeze Park, about six miles from the Las Vegas Strip.

That night at the park, the three were arrested, officials said. Las 
Vegas police approached the men about 7:45 p.m. as they were in a 
white van parked across two spots. As officers neared, the van drove 
off. Then the van stopped, and Souza and Fujioka got out and 
allegedly briefly ran from police.

"It's a little bit shocking," said Johnette Aipa, who has known Souza 
and his family for about 20 years.

She added, "All I can say is they're good neighbors."

Others from the Kapolei cul-de-sac where Souza lives also expressed shock.

"He's a good guy," said Jovencio Castro Jr., who lives two doors down 
from Souza.

Tenari Maafala, president of the State of Hawaii Organization of 
Police Officers, said the officers will likely be terminated because 
of HPD's zero-tolerance policy on drug use. He added they have a 
right to defend themselves in court and shouldn't be assumed guilty. 
"We as police officers .. we should be given our due process," he said.

Maafala also said the incident has disappointed many in the force.

"It is a black eye for the department, for us as officers, for the 
union and the people of Hawai'i," he said.

Fujioka, 37, and Souza, 47, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Meanwhile, HPD would not say whether Fujioka and Souza have ever 
received disciplinary action by the department.

Yu said that only records "resulting in discharge may be released."

Neither Fujioka nor Souza has a criminal record and no civil lawsuits 
have been filed against them.

Tom Wagner, president of the Nevada Police Athletic Federation, which 
puts on the Nevada Police & Fire Games, said the incident is a first 
for the event. "Any time another brother in law enforcement gets 
arrested, it's not only shocking to us, it's shocking to the 
community," Wagner said, adding the two may be barred from returning.
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